C2D2 research 1a - From York to Malawi and back: The first UK based sero-prevalence study of Human T lymphotropic virus 1/2 in paired mothers and children living in Malawi

Project: Other projectOther internal award

Project Details

Layman's description

Human T lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) chronically infects human immune cells and can lead to debilitating disease or blood disorders. HTLV-1 is commonly found in the West Indies and Southern Japan. Sub-Saharan Africa is thought to be a high endemic area, but it is not mapped sufficiently to allow the promotion of effective HTLV prevention programs, such as ante-natal and blood transfusion screening. In a collaboration between Centre of Immunology and Infection and the Epidemiology and Genetics Unit (Health Sciences), this project aims to test 1000 paired Malawian mother-child blood samples to gather data on incidence, transmission rate and co-infections and malignancies.

Key findings

A total of 418 mothers and children paired plasma samples were collected between 2006 and 2010 at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, South-East Africa and accessible at the CII. We decided to test the prevalence of HTLV and HCV in this cohort instead of the planned field trip to Malawi. Methods: Screening: ELISA, Confirmation: Western Blot (WB). Results: Two mothers and one child were HCV positive. 27 mothers were HTLV1/2 ELISA positive. Of these three (11.11 %) mothers had HTLV-1 and eight (29.63 %) HTLV-2 positive WB. Sixteen (59.26 %) ELISA positive mothers had an indeterminate WB. None of the corresponding children had a positive ELISA test but three had positive WB: 1 indeterminate, 1 HTLV-2 and one HTLV1+2. Conclusions: The low HCV prevalence rates were expected. The high rates of HTLV-2 and indeterminate WB results were unexpected and compel us to conduct the HTLV DNA testing of this cohort. With the help of our collaborators DNA of these mother-children pairs have been secured and are ready for testing.


1 post doc for 1 year who has now taken up a post as post doctoral researcher and laboratory manager at the University of Oxford



Manuscript is in preparation
Effective start/end date1/03/1230/09/12